One casualty of the President’s shutdown of non-essential government offices has been public clarity about precisely which government functions continue to operate. Aviation has not been immune from the confusion once some designated pilot examiners began telling applicants they were unable to conduct pilot practical exams. Making matters worse of course, all Flight Standards District Offices remain closed during the shutdown.
To help set the record straight, the Flight School Association of North America published a notice to members detailing a recent meeting with senior FAA staff. “The agency in no way desires to stop the conduct of airman practical tests by DPEs during the government shutdown,” FSANA said. “DPEs may continue to conduct practical tests if they are normally authorized to do so in absence of prior approval required by their managing office. Airman practical tests are allowed to continue as normally provided during the government shutdown.”
FSANA explained, “In some cases, for specialty tests, when DPEs are due for yearly recurrency oversight, or for DPEs who are newly designated or on probationary status, explicit approval and/or oversight is required for them to conduct a practical test. For DPEs who normally are able to act, no stoppage of their activities is required.” The association went on to explain there is a difference between the notification of activity requirement that DPEs must provide their managing office prior to acting and requirement of approval prior to action.